Link in Soul Calibur II
by Scott Helsen
In 2003, Namco released the home console edition of the epic weapon combat sequel Soul Calibur 2 on Playstation 2, XBOX, and GameCube. Every version of the game was exactly identical in general quality except for one catch: each version featured a special guest fighter exclusive to that console. Sony featured Heihachi from Namco’s Tekken fighting series, Microsoft had Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, and Nintendo featured none other than Link from the Legend of Zelda series. So for fans of Nintendo, The Legend of Zelda, and casual players, does the Nintendo GameCube version do justice to the beloved Link character? Also, does Link fit nicely within the Soul Calibur 2 roster?
Fortunately, the answer is yes, Nintendo has definitely created a very playable version of Link for Soul Calibur 2, and for the most part, he fits in well with the rest of the game’s roster, especially in terms of costume and prop similarities. As with all the other fighters in the game, the Link character model looks and animates very fluidly for a 3D fighter, and his trademark traditional green costume and green cap further helps his appearance to look like Link. His shield is extremely detailed and colorful, thus looking very faithful to the look of a Zelda game. In addition to his trademark sword and shield, Link can also quickly fire a bow and arrow, as well as throw a cartoon bomb or a boomerang, like in the Super Smash Bros. franchise. Also, Nintendo and Namco equipped Link with a small but simple variety of combo moves and specials in the form of horizontal attacks, vertical attacks, throw moves, kicks, blocking (referred to as “guarding” in the game), guard impacts, and soul charge animations, which temporarily raise the attack power of your weapon.
Unfortunately, though the bow and arrow, bomb, and boomerang fit Link’s character, all three special weapons don’t work as often in a full 3D fighting environment when his opponent can simply sidestep and avoid each hit. This lessens the reputation of Link being a cheap character as the only fighter in the game who can fire projectiles. The explosion radius of the bomb is very small, so small in fact that Link’s opponent can sidestep once to his or her left or right and avoid the bomb’s impact completely. Sidestepping also easily counters the bow and arrow and the boomerang, as both also fire in a straight line in front of Link, despite their very long range. When the bomb does hit, though, the impact is quite satisfying as it launches your opponent at least ten feet vertically into the air, which opens up the opportunity to perform juggle combos before your opponent hits the ground.
Overall, Link’s addition to the roster in Soul Calibur 2 for the GameCube faithfully recreates the look and feel of the iconic Link character from the cherished Legend of Zelda series, while still retaining the look and feel of a mostly close-quarters weapon combat game. Link’s projectile attacks are fairly easy to perform, but due to the option of sidestepping, they don’t always translate well towards Link’s favor in the 3D combat realm. Regardless, the rest of Link’s short-range attacks blend in greatly with the rest of the GameCube edition, and is sure to please fighting game fans as well as hardcore and casual fans of the Soul Calibur and The Legend of Zelda franchises.